The Veterans of Foreign Wars as a fraternal and social organization, with emphasis on their projects that benefit community life and cohesion. Directed by Robert Altman before he ceased making industrial films in Kansas City.
June 4, 2009 Subject:
One man's kitsch, another man's nostalgia
It was interesting to see the film after reading the other reviews. Though the opening was like a war movie and rest of the film was not, it was the war movie part which surprised me most. The rest was a coherent piece which could have stood alone, though of course I see the purpose of the "bonding" footage at the beginning. I didn't find the piece "all over the map" in an inappropriate way. It tried to be comprehensive and I think it achieved its goal without excess. This conservative American approaching middle age actually enjoys news reels for the historical snapshot of America. I feel a touch of nostalgia, and I like it. No need to dismiss it as campy.
As to Cold War paranoia? Remember that the price of anything worth preserving is eternal vigilance.
June 30, 2007 Subject:
The Magic Bond
October 31, 2003 Subject:
Anti-commie Marble Tournaments!
An ultrabizarre movie that just goes all over the map. We first start out in a bombed out building in "France" where 4 American soldiers are taking cover. They chat endlessly about this and that, and how comradeship was oh so important in the war. We then cut to a reporter who then tells us that yes, comradeship was important in the war, but the soldiers should be comrades after the war as well! Before you get the uncomfortable idea that this is going somewhere towards getting married to each other (you'll get that feeling, trust me), the film seems to take a complete opposite turn and says what they're REALLY talking about is bonding together to fight the evils of our society! Juvenile deliquency! Unpatriotism! (check out the great newspaper headline of "Corrupt Government re-elected because of low voter turnout) and of course, communists! Rather interesting solutions are presented for these problems (Juvenile Deliquency can of course be resolved by Marble tournaments (I'm not making that up) and baseball). The whole thing doesn't REALLY hold up. But it's sort of fun in the middle with the commie bashing (the anti commie parade is amazing) and of course, the um, marble tournaments.
The first five minutes of this film is a fascinating preview of Altman's filmic style. The film opens with a group of soliders in a shattered house in Europe talking and taking care of their wounded sargent. Altman's use of an ensemble cast and overlapping dialog here would become his trademark during the late 1960s and 1970s.
Unfortunately, the remainder of the film falls into the didactic mode of 1950s industrial films. A war correspondant talks about how the Veterans of Foreign Wars helps fight juvenile deliquency, apathy, neglect of veterans and "smugness" by sponsoring marble tournements (?!), voter information, assistance for disabled vets, and patrotic observences. The narration alternates between the correspondant and a booming, pompous narrator (not unlike the news reel announcer from Citizen Kane). Some good shots of 1950s kitsch, such as a group of kids reciting the Pleadge of Allegence or a newspaper headline that reads "Jury Convicts 12 Commies", as well as a good dose of Cold War paranoia.